Dave Seter


I didn't like working a jackhammer

but the boss said its raucous

locker room chatter made me a man.

And as I walk past construction sites 

I see those same knives

of stubble in the faces of workmen

who call out to passing women.

Chatter, chatter, chatter, is the sound.

They call the part of the jackhammer

that cuts the blade.

This is the thing.

Some people have strong ideas

on what it means to be a man.

Bulk in the shoulders.

Beer on the breath and in the gut.

A roughness toward every thing.

The view it must be won, bent or broken.

Why did they want to make me one of them?

My ancestors knew the hard work of spruce,

how living things adapt to landscape.

I survive by knowing 

even the hardest case

when cut still sweetly bleeds.

published in Paterson Literary Review No. 43 (2015-6)

anthologized in Take a Stand: Art Against Hate (Raven Chronicles Press, 2020)